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Vox Sentences: How many Russians does it take to attend a meeting with Trump Jr.?

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The US Justice Department cracks down on shady doctors; Boko Haram spills over the border into Cameroon; even more Russia revelations to cap off the week.


What happens at Trump Tower does not stay at Trump Tower

Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • Any week that starts with major Trump/Russia scandal news must also end with more Russia scandal news ... right?
  • We now know that there was another person at Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer last June. And that person is a former counterintelligence officer for the Soviet Union who could also currently be working for Russian intelligence, per US officials. [NBC News / Ken Dilanian, Nathash Lebedeva, and Hallie Jackson]
  • His name is Rinat Akhmetshin, and he’s a Russian-American lobbyist. Today, Akhmetshin told the AP he was at the meeting, but pushed back on reports that he has worked as a spy for the Russians. (Specifically, he said he did work for Soviet counterintelligence but was never trained as a spy). [AP / Desmond Butler and Chad Day]
  • Akhmetshin also told reporters about the meeting, which he described as not having much substance. He candidly told one reporter that the situation was a “clusterf***.” [Laura Rozen via Twitter]
  • It’s also been reported that there were at least eight people attending the meeting, though only six have been named so far. [CNN]
  • Just as important as the details that are trickling out is the fact that Trump Jr. and other campaign members are continuing to lie or leave out key details about the June 3 meeting. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • The story has changed a lot over the past week, so if you want to check the timeline for yourself, Vox’s Dara Lind has you covered. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • Trump is not the only one whose version of events has shifted. Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer with whom he met, told reporters that while she wasn’t working for the Kremlin at the time, she was in regular contact with Russian officials, including the country’s top prosecutor. [WSJ / Brett Forrest and Paul Sonne]
  • This is important, because President Trump and his son have been insisting the meeting didn’t involve anyone from the Russian government, despite taking the meeting after being told the Russian government wanted to help Trump’s campaign. [NYT / Jo Becker, Adam Goldman, and Matt Apuzzo]

The Justice Department cracks down on pill mills

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • The US Justice Department arrested more than 400 medical professionals yesterday, accusing them of perpetrating $1.3 billion worth of health care fraud. [US Department of Justice]
  • The department’s actions specifically focused on people who prescribed unnecessary amounts of prescription opioids and billed government insurance programs including Medicare and Medicaid to reap the profits. [Washington Post / Sari Horwitz and Renae Merle]
  • To give a sense of the scale of prescription drugs flowing to patients, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told reporters that some individual doctors were prescribing more opioids than entire hospitals. [NBC News / Andrew Rafferty]
  • But while the arrests targeted opioid prescribers, they also aimed at shady drug rehab centers, who took in people addicted to drugs and alcohol, charged them thousands of dollars, and did nothing to get them clean. [Politico / Frank Owen]
  • The department’s announcement comes at a time when more people than ever are dying of opioid addiction, from both prescription opioids and heroin. [German Lopez]
  • Since 1999, drug overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled, alongside sales of those drugs. Prescription opioids have been responsible for 183,000 overdose deaths from 1999 to 2015. [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]
  • Overprescribing narcotics has also directly fed into the addiction crisis so many parts of the US are experiencing, with many people turning to cheaper, illicit drugs like heroin. [New England Journal of Medicine / Wilson Compton et al.]
  • It’s the biggest pushback against health care fraud in the department’s history. Opioids have been a big focus for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is tasked with trying to shut off the supply of drugs into the United States and cracking down on drug dealers (and bringing back harsh penalties to do so). [The Atlantic / Matt Ford]
  • Cutting off supply is one thing. But without increasing access to drug treatment, which is still lagging in the United States, it’s not going to make much of a dent in the country’s addiction problem. [Vox / German Lopez]

Boko Haram violence spills into Cameroon

Stringer/AFP/Getty Images
  • Two women detonated suicide bombs standing in a funeral crowd in northern Cameroon on Wednesday, killing 19 people and wounding dozens more. [Agence France Presse]
  • It's the latest attack linked to the Islamist group Boko Haram, which maintains a large presence in neighboring Nigeria. The terrorist organization has been around since the early 2000s but developed notoriety a few years ago when it kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls from the northern town of Chibok. [BBC]
  • Experts quickly said the attack had all the marks of Boko Haram, a group that’s increasingly using women and children captives to carry out suicide bomb attacks. Since 2014, 117 children have been used in suicide attacks, the majority of whom are female. [UNICEF]
  • Small towns in northeastern Nigeria have been hot spots for violence in the past few years, including a massacre of hundreds of people in the small town of Baga two years ago. [Vox / Max Fisher]
  • That violence has been spilling across the border into Cameroon, where Boko Haram militants are targeting a military force that’s trying to fight them. [Associated Press / Edwin Kindzeka Moki]
  • Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 and kidnapped many others since its formation. In response, Cameroon and multiple other African nations, including Chad and Niger, formed a coalition a few years ago to fight the extremists. [NPR / Colin Dwyer]
  • The government fighters have freed thousands of people who were being held by Boko Haram this year alone. [Associated Press / Edwin Kindzeka Moki]
  • Fighting and terror have also created a serious refugee crisis and food shortage in the region, prompting the United Nations to ship over a bunch of goats for food. [Reuters / Umberto Bacchi]

Miscellaneous

  • Answers to all your burning questions about what the heck to do if a truck accidentally slimes (and subsequently crushes) your car with thousands of hagfish. [Southern Fried Science / Andrew David Thaler]
  • The great monkey selfie case of 2017 advanced to the Ninth Circuit this week, as PETA filed a case on behalf of a monkey named Naruto — alleging copyright infringement. The judges who heard the case were not impressed, and made a lot of monkey jokes along the way. [Motherboard / Sarah Jeong]
  • The purple floral dress Beyoncé wore for her official baby name announcement was originally menswear. “Romantic menswear,” to be exact. [Vogue / Nick Remsen]
  • Musicals fans, rejoice. Song and dance (actually, just song) is coming soon to a podcast near you. [Wired / Charley Locke]
  • At 37 years old, with a painful autoimmune disorder, Venus Williams is still kicking ass at Wimbledon this year — her 20th. [The New Yorker / Louisa Thomas]

Verbatim

  • “One of my favourite things to wear at the beach is sand. Or, as I like to call it, ‘nature’s glitter.’” [Arwa Mahdawi / The Guardian]
  • “My handshake with him, it's not innocent. It's not the alpha and the omega of politics, but a moment of truth.” [French President Emmanuel Macron to CNN / Meg Wagner]
  • “A former F.B.I. agent, who has worked on a number of high-profile hacking cases, once told me the only secure computer system is one that is not connected to a network, does not have any USB slots, and has top-level encryption passwords to get inside. Even then, it’s still not completely safe.” [Nick Bilton / Vanity Fair]
  • “Just 24 hours old, Jay’la Cy’anne Clay already was having a rough day. Convulsions rocked her tiny body as she lay under warming lights in the nursery of the Baptist Health Richmond hospital. She vomited and made strange, high-pitched cries. The infant was going through opioid withdrawal.” [NYT / Catherine Saint Louis]
  • “Once in a while I reflect and think, ‘You know, you’re going to be 80 in three years…’ But then I think, ‘Oh well, who cares? How should I spend it?’” [Emily Lemer to Man Repeller]

Watch this: The best Fox News explanations for Trump Jr.’s Russia meeting

Fox News has spent the week downplaying Trump Jr.'s attempt to collude with the Russian government during the election. As the Russia story keeps getting worse, we're going to see just how far the network is willing to go to stay on Trump's good side. [YouTube / Carlos Maza and Coleman Lowndes]


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